Connect with us

Features

Mass Effect 2 Prioritizes Mental Health in a Crisis

Mass Effect 2 encourages you to look into the mental health struggles of your crew and help them to come to terms with them.

Published

on

Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 2 has been celebrated as one of the greatest action RPGs of all time since its release over a decade ago. Key to its success is its cast of likable outcasts and the lengths you must go in order to gain their respect and loyalty.

Centered around a “suicide mission,” Mass Effect 2 tasks you as Commander Shepard with helping your crew come to terms with their past mistakes and current emotional struggles so that they can better operate during the mission. It’s an intriguing way to focus on how important mental health is regarding an individual’s ability to work effectively and do their best.

Mass Effect 2
Image Credit: Bioware

Simone Biles made headlines around the world recently for her decision to step back from some key competitions during the 2021 Summer Olympics in Japan. Her choice to focus on her mental health even at such an important time in her athletic career sparked debates about prioritizing mental health over the traditional understanding of things like success and hard work.

For a long time, our society has been encouraging people to stuff down their emotions with escapism rather than taking time to focus on trauma and heal the rifts in their emotional wellbeing. Phrases like “Just power through” and “Man up” are regularly tossed out to people struggling with their mental health at work, and not only are they not helpful, they add to the common stigma already associated with most forms of mental illness.

Mass Effect 2
Image Credit: Bioware

This is why the Mass Effect 2 approach is so refreshing. In order for the game’s final mission to succeed without costing the lives of your crew in the process, Shepard must ensure that every crew member has come to terms with their inner demons or past mistakes.

These manifest in a number of different ways. While Jack wants to revisit the place where her trauma was inflicted, Grunt is struggling with the insurgence of new emotional turmoil that comes with being a teenager. Many other allies have family issues to resolve, some even related to their childhood or early adult years and how their primary caregiver treated (or mistreated) them during these key stages of emotional development.

Mass Effect 2
Image Credit: Bioware

Regardless of the issue at hand and despite the overwhelming ramifications of the mission, the characters in Mass Effect 2 are still bettered by taking the time to come to terms with their emotional struggles so that they can process and understand them. Further, their performance is improved, and this is a net gain for everyone, particularly the other people who have to work with them to succeed at the common goal.

It’s an important message to communicate and one that many players will absorb from Mass Effect 2 without even noticing. The more we come to realize that we and our co-workers are at our best when we’ve dealt with the trauma and hardships that still haunt our minds today, the less stigma will exist around those who decide to set aside work in order to better their mental health.

After the stress of the pandemic, addiction and mental health struggles are at an all-time high. More troubling still, overdoses and suicides have risen in turn. With the recent release of the Mass Effect Legendary Edition, it’s nice to see such a prominent game having players explore the importance of mental health. After all, if even the most badass outlaws of the galaxy in Mass Effect 2 need to take some time to deal here and there, it opens the door for the rest of us to make it a priority as well.

Mike Worby is a human who spends way too much of his free time playing, writing and podcasting about pop culture. Through some miracle he's still able to function in society as if he were a regular person, and if there's hope for him, there's hope for everyone.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Jeremy M Preston

    August 9, 2021 at 1:47 pm

    I mean I guess you could phrase it that way. But it’s nothing new, an integral part of leadership is ensuring that your team’s minds are in the game. It’s just usually described with different words, ones like “morale”. It’s often a component of literary works, it pops up in history, it comes up in the workplace for those of us who have had management roles. As a leader (or at least a good one) part of your job is making sure your team has what they need to get the task done, some of that is physical materials, and a lot of that is ensuring they are in the right headspace. I mean think of the classic king rising his horse along his assemble troops giving a rousing speech, what else is that but attending to their mental health. He’s helping them find hope, purpose, a reason to fight, a reason to accept the possibility of death. That’s mental health. It may be crude and last minute but it is.

    The genius of mass effect 2 is that while it was part role playing game, part shooter, with great level design and game play, ultimately it was a character driven story. And as such of COURSE Shepherds leadership role is going to necessitate looking after the morale of the crew of the Normandy.

    Not going to lie, I still get chills thinking about the ending to the shadow broker as you finish making your way down that hallway and enter the brokers office. The music reaches a climax and that gravely voice calmly starts to speak with “here for the drell? Reckless, even for you commander”

    • Mike Worby

      August 22, 2021 at 8:54 am

      You make some good points, it’s just not something you see addressed so directly in video game stories generally.

  2. Mark

    August 9, 2021 at 6:17 pm

    Biles quit on her country plain and simple. If she wasn’t 100% her spot should have gone to someone else who would have filled in wonderfully. Mental health is important, but when you train your whole life for a bigger than life event, you don’t skip it. Imagine the repercussions if Tom Brady opted out of a Super Bowl Because of “stress”.

    • Mike Worby

      August 22, 2021 at 8:54 am

      Frankly, I disagree. Just look at all of the athletes and performers who have “given it their all” only to die young from substance abuse or lose control and end up in prison. Mental health ought to be a priority.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Trending